Sunday, April 1, 2007

Vancouver teachers contract first in province to include support for transgender employees

"We are very proud to have the first teachersCollective Agreement in the province to include anti-discrimination languagethat recognizes discrimination on the basis of gender identity," says GlenHansman, President of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association(VESTA). "There may not even be another one in Canada." VESTA and its secondary counterpart, Vancouver Secondary Teachers'Association (VSTA), bargain collectively as the Vancouver Teachers'Federation. They signed a memorandum of agreement with the Vancouver SchoolBoard recently that will be ratified by teachers on April 12th. No otherteachers contract in BC mentions gender identity. "As teachers, we have been very active the past five years working withmanagement and trustees of the Vancouver School Board to make schoolswelcoming for all members of our school community," says Glen Hansman. "Havingthis new language is a significant step in protecting trans-identified andgender non-conforming employees against transphobia and other forms ofharassment." Significantly, the new contract language specifically states that nothing"requires the affected employee to actually possess a characteristic that isthe basis for discrimination." "Because of the Azmi Jubran vs. North Vancouver School Board case acouple years ago, we thought it was important for this point to bespecifically stated in our Collective Agreement," says Glen Hansman. "Thanksto Mr. Jubran's persistence, it is absolutely clear now that one does not haveto be a person of colour to be affected by racism, that one does not have tobe gay to be a victim of homophobia - and our new Collective Agreementlanguage reflects that." "Collective bargaining is an important form of social justice work," saysGlen Hansman, "and we are very happy to have achieved this at the local levelfor our teachers." Glen Hansman is the President of the Vancouver Elementary SchoolTeachers' Association, and former antihomophobia consultant for the VancouverSchool Board.For further information: Glen Hansman at (604) 873-8378 (Monday-Friday),
(604) 813-5318 (cell), or

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